One of the least spoken about and underrated Feasts of the Lord, but perhaps one of the most important, is the Feast of Firstfruits. Why is this feast so important? Well, not only is it a holiday to give thanks and honor to the Lord, but it’s also the day that Yeshua rose from the dead!!
Unlike the other Spring feasts, Firstfruits was only able to be observed once the Israelites had entered into the Land of Israel:
Leviticus 23:9-14, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.’”
However, because of the Israelites unbelief and disobedience, they wandered around the desert for forty years before the Lord finally led them through the Jordan River and into the land flowing with milk and honey! Commanded by Joshua, son of Nun, the Lord instructed the people of Israel to be circumcised at Gilgal. There, the Israelites also celebrated Passover, Unleavened Bread, and, for the first time, Firstfruits!
Joshua 5:8-12, “And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ So the place has been called Gilgal to this day. On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.”
Each year, Firstfruits ALWAYS occurs on the Sunday (the first day of the week) AFTER Passover! This means that, according to the sighting of the new moon (how God counts the months – He doesn’t use the Gregorian or Jewish calendars), if Passover falls on a Sunday, then Firstfruits wouldn’t be until the following week. Moreover, if Passover is on a Saturday, then the High Sabbath AND Firstfruits would be the next day! You might be wondering then, how do we know that Yeshua died on Passover and rose on Firstfruits? According to Matthew 12:39-40 and John 2:19-22, Yeshua had to be in the ‘heart of the earth’ for three days and three nights to fulfill the sign of Jonah and the rebuilding of the Temple. While many Christians think that Yeshua died on a Friday and rose on a Sunday, I think you’ll find that the timeline below shows why this would be impossible. Let’s dive in!
The Timeline of Yeshua’s Death and Resurrection (Passover to Firstfruits)
Note: Using your new knowledge of Passover, High Sabbaths, and the weekly Sabbath, I want you to pay close attention to the Scriptures and notice that there were actually TWO Sabbaths between Yeshua’s death — Unleavened Bread (the ‘special Sabbath’ – John 19:31) and Shabbat (Saturday).
Wednesday – Yeshua’s Crucifixion – Passover – Night One
Yeshua was nailed to the cross at 9am and died around 3pm – three hours before sunset:
Matthew 27:45-46, “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)
John 19:31-37, “Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced.’”
Before sunset (which is when the High Sabbath began and no work was permitted), Yeshua was buried in the tomb:
John 19:41-42, “At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
Mark 15:47, “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.”
Note: Both Marys wouldn’t have been able to buy spices on this night because everything would’ve been closed before Yeshua died on the cross. In Israel, all of the shops close as a half-day every Friday or whenever there is a feast so they can prepare their homes before the Sabbath begins. Yeshua’s death brought in the beginning of Passover, and the High Sabbath would’ve begun just three hours later, so everything would’ve been closed.
Thursday – Day One – Night Two – High Sabbath
This was a day of rest after Passover (the first day of Unleavened Bread), so everyone was resting or, at least, at home as they were not permitted to work.
Friday – Day Two – Night Three – Half Work Day
The shops would’ve reopened for a half-day, giving the women time to get spices ready to anoint Yeshua’s body the following day.
Mark 16:1, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.”
Luke 23:56, “Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”
Saturday – Day Three
Once again, everyone would’ve rested on the Sabbath. No work was done. However, according to Genesis 1:5, the day begins in the evening (at sunset), so when the sun set on Saturday, Firstfruits began, and Yeshua rose from the dead!!
Sunday – Yeshua has Risen – Firstfruits (this feast is not a High Sabbath)
Just after dawn at 6am, the women made their way to the tomb:
Mark 16:2-7, “Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
1 Corinthians 15:20-23, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”
I like the way one blog wrote about Firstfruits and the significance it has on our lives today, “The Feast of Firstfruits is not just an archaic celebration instituted by God for His people in a certain time. The principle and idea behind this feast also has present implications for us. What do we do with the resources God has given us? Do we tithe? How do you use your time, gifts, relationships, influence, emotional capital? Have you given God the firstfruits in these areas? We give God the best of what we have because we know that all good gifts come from God. And we are not giving anything that we own. We are mere stewards, and we are giving back to Him what is originally His. We live on borrowed time, all of us. None of us can tell God that we are going to do things for Him tomorrow, or at a certain point in time. The Feast of Firstfruits also point us to the hope that is to come — of our physical resurrection when Christ comes again to make all thing new. How has your identity as a follower of Jesus Christ stamped your life and behaviour completely? How deeply has this identity taken hold of you so it shapes your very life?” (The Fellowship)
James 1:16-18, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
The Feasts of the Lord are incredible periods of the year, clearly highlighting who the Messiah is, what He has done, and what He has yet to do! While we don’t have to sacrifice burnt offerings anymore, Firstfruits is an excellent opportunity to give God the first of your harvest and bring honor to His name. On this day, we celebrate that the King reigns over our lives! Yeshua is ALIVE, so let’s worship Him and celebrate this feast in a way that pleases the Father!
I know that many Christians enjoy gathering with their families on Easter Sunday; but, by looking at the origins of this holiday, you’ll find more ungodliness and paganism than Biblical truth. Yes, Yeshua did rise on a Sunday (well, Saturday night), but bunnies, eggs, and ham are not things that resemble or please the Lord! The more I study the feasts and understand the roots of mainstream holidays, the more I desire to cling to the Father and observe the feasts HE sanctified as holy.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ~ Joshua 24:15
There is one more Spring feast left. Just as Unleavened Bread begins the same time as Passover, the Feast of Weeks begins at Firstfruits. Counting 50 days and 7 Sabbaths from Firstfruits, we will arrive at Shavuot/Pentecost, an incredible festival that I look forward to diving into next time!